Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's Finally Here!

The bags are packed, the running shoes are laid out, and tomorrow we are off to the Happiest Place on Earth to complete a bucket list item - race through Disneyland!  Our original motivation for running began with this on our lists, and now 14 months after we started running, we are off to do it!

To say I am excited is an understatement!  We almost let this race pass us by because it wasn't part of our Dave Ramsey plan, but we're working on finding that right balance between saving and enjoying life.  No regrets!

Peter will be participating in the Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare, which means he will be running the 10K with me bright and early Saturday morning followed by his first half marathon Sunday morning!

For the most part, we are out to enjoy these races and see what we can do.  It's our first time running these distances so I'm telling myself that I just want to establish a starting point for our future and have fun. We're running through Disneyland after all!

We'll let you know how it goes when we get home!  Can't wait!!! 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Yard

As if life isn't already busy enough in the summer, we knew we had some really big yard projects to conquer this year too!  Spring was jam packed with working on the inside of our new house and summer we needed to make a dent, even if it is just a small one of the yard!  

The awesome thing about our new house, is that it is built on a very rare double city lot!  The bonus of which is that we have a huge yard with a basketball court and lots of room for the kids to run!  The bad news is that we have a yard that has had no care taking of for the last 3 years and was and still is a huge mess!  By taking out the swimming pool a few months ago, we created an even bigger mess of dirt!  When we took the pool out we knew it would remain a mess for 1-2 years while the ground continues to settle.  Everything else we would clean up and spruce up as much as time and resources allowed.  

The biggest expense we faced at all with the house was replacing the shingle shake roof to a composite shingle roof.  This was a huge sucker of the budget but a task that we needed to get done.  This was completed a few weeks ago.  Another task was replacing a cracked window, which we decided to just replace the whole room while we were at it.  This has already been a huge blessing for us because this was the room that got the most sun and new windows have made a huge difference already with energy savings in that space!  

With all of that being said, we decided to spend the rest of our budget on a small retaining wall and patio for off of the deck.  This project, as most projects ended up costing about twice what we budgeted and took about twice as long to complete too!  We all got our hands dirty in the process! 

Just getting started, if we only knew! 

Eli's a great helper!

Mal's a great helper too!

Retaining wall on the left, flagstone that needs repaired in the center and the dirty pool on the right.

Mal helping haul gravel.  The dirt Mal is standing on used to be a nasty in ground hot tub. We will replace the deck to fill that area one of these years! 

Filling the hole with gravel.  In the background you can see where the pool was, where the pool house that will soon become a guest house is located, and behind the pool house is the basketball court.  

Peter worked super hard on these projects. Each one of those blocks weighed almost 80 lbs so it was hard work in the trenches! 

Enjoying himself! 

Not enjoying himself! 

Back to the one enjoying himself!

Hard working boy! 

Whew, all the base blocks are in!

Eli standing in the drain ditch

Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam! 

Making good progresss!  From here you can see the walkway up to Peter's parents house.  They've since build a matching retaining wall. 

So close!

A yard of dirt makes for really messy floors and lots of baths.  I'm so over the dirt yard! 

Another trench dug and filled with gravel.  Felt never ending by this point! You can also see the retaining wall at Peter's parents yard. 

All ready to go.  Those darn little tracks kept us up until after 11 at night, with a flashlight trying to get them in place and we were still off!  Tricky little buggers! 

First blocks taking shape! 

Sand, sand and more sand! 

Playing with Bina in the playpen, in the dirt pool! 

And just like that, it is finished!  I truly love it!  We still need to level out all the dirt around it.  The right hand side will be our garden boxes come next spring and on the left side we will be planting some new grass here in September!  It's slowly but surely taking shape and I am really excited about how it's looking! 

And just for fun, here's an adorable picture of Peter and Sabrina's very first date night!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gotcha Day Party!

Our family always looks forward to celebrating Gotcha Day each year. It is an extra opportunity to just celebrate our family and enjoy time together.  It is amazing to me that we have had Malachi home for 3 years now. He is becoming such a big boy!  For our 3rd Gotcha Day party we decided to head back to where we went for our 1st Gotcha Day thanks to free zoo passes given to us by our library!  

The boys LOVED the zoo this time and we learned the valuable lesson of getting there right when it opens.  The crowds were low, the weather was still cool, and best of all - the animals were all still out and active!  

This was my first year attempting Ethiopian food for everyone to eat.  We usually go out to an Ethiopian restaurant but we're all a bit sensitive to the heat and can tone it down a bit if I make it at home so that is what we chose to do this year!  Everyone seemed to enjoy it more this way!

Doro Wat

Sega Wat

Injera, that we did choose to buy! I haven't quite perfected that art form! 

I also made Ethiopian Honeybread which tastes so yummy (especially as french toast the next morning!)

I was so proud!  Last year he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the Ethiopian restaurant.  This year he ate 2 plates full!

The Ethiopia Colors!

Such a happy camper on his special day! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

3 Years in Our Family

Today is a day full of so many emotions for me.  It is hard for me to even put in to words what this day means for me and our little family.  3 Years ago today Peter and I had traveled all the way to the other side of the world to hold and love and bring home the little guy who had captured our hearts!

I can't even express how I felt the first time I looked into my son's beautiful deep brown eyes.  My family felt complete in that moment, but my joy came at a great cost for him. While we had spent a year preparing for his arrival and months staring at pictures of his beautiful face, I was a complete stranger to him.  He had to give up everything he knew for me to gain the world!  He was such a brave baby boy and took all of the rapid changes in stride.  I remember one afternoon so vividly as we sat in the hotel room in Addis Ababa and he was inconsolable with his eyes full with fear.  It hurt so badly to see him have to go through that transition time and  we were quickly confronted with how real and painful the loss in adoption is.

Meeting each other! 

He has been a super star little boy. For all of the adjusting and change that has happened in his 3 years, he has handled it beautifully.  We tried to mentally prepare for a really tough transition home but he did so good and almost instantly put his trust in us and bonded amazingly. When I look back now, I realize he must have been terrified with all these new experiences happening all at once.  He did appear almost frozen at times.  But his walls of defense crumbled quickly.  More and more as the days went on, he gave us more glimpses of who he really was and how big of a personality God had given him!

1 Year Home

2 Years Home

 As he is now 3 years old and we have been able to talk more about Ethiopia and adoption and look at pictures from his life in Ethiopia.  It hurts.  It hurts in a way I never knew it could.  The conversations have started and as I speak, the words just kind of catch in my throat.  This is real.  His pain is my pain.  I have no answers to the hundreds of questions that he will wonder about in his lifetime. That sucks! And while he still is much too young to fully verbalize how he feels, I know that there are holes in that heart of his. Adoption is rooted in unbearable loss.

But I am so thankful that there is redemption in his story. Not just for him, but for us!   We are his family!  We love him more than words can say.  He is breathtaking!  He makes me laugh and has filled a void in my heart that I know God put there just for my sweet Malachi. If there is nothing else I could tell his birthmom of the millions of things I want to share with her, I want her to know how blessed we are by him.  How deep our love is for him and how truly happy he has made us and how honored I am to get to be his mother!

Adoption is hard.  The loss is very real.  I don't know why Malachi's story had to be written this way, but I am so glad that God chose us to get to be his mom and dad!  I cannot imagine our life without him in it.  He has brought a special kind of joy into our lives!